"Mmmyeeeeesss?" Harley asked coyly, casting a sideways look at the final heroine in the room waiting to be corrupted. "Something you'd like to say, Huney?"
"Forgive me Father..." Helena breathed raggedly as she crawled forward. One gloved hand was furiously rubbing her groin through her bodysuit, while the other was clutching at her cross necklace. "For I-I have s-sinned..."
Harley's grin grew even wider. "Oh, do tell, my child, and we shall decide your punishment..."
However, even as the mad jester leaned forward, eager to enjoy the total corruption of her last slave, a voice niggled away in the back of her head. How long before other heroes - not to mention some villains - began to notice that four prominent crimefighters were missing?
The Joker took a lengthy inhale of the cigar between his gloved fingers, before speaking to the crowd assembled in the dim light of Abandoned Gotham Warehouse #726.
"Gentlemen and gentleladies," he began, "I understand that you're the very best at what you do, or the best I could find, ha! And you understand that I am in need of some new muscle to flex with my common compadres being cast in the clink."
He raised an index finger and continued.
"Buuuuut... I don't accept just anyone into my little group of ne'er-do-wells. So I've got a little assignment for you..."
With his other hand, the Ace of Knaves unrolled a poster. A poster displaying a certain red-and-black-clad female.
"Bring her to me. Alive. And try not to rough her up too much, you hear? I'll take care of that part."
"Oh, goody." One of the figures drawled with sarcasm, stepping forward wearing a simple but expesnive combination of red shirt with rolled sleeves and black slacks, white spats decorating his $200 shows. "My first day outta the madhouse and I'm playing private PI for a clown?"
"Is there any better calling, Mr. White?" The Joker responded, taking his cigar between his grinning teeth and tossing a second to his fellow ghost skinned psycho. "As I recall, the 'free' world last saw you as small fish nobody who walked into Arkham as the east way out, am I right?"
"Your point, clown?" Warren White, aka The Great White Shark, caught the cuban smoothly, not even flinching from clear insult. Lighting the illegal smoke with practiced ease using the personalized lighter he'd reclaimed on leaving Arkham in the Joker's grand bust out, Warren added, "I'm a much bigger fish now."
"Oh, no doubt, Sharky." The Joker replied, a clearly fake smile on his lips. "My point though..." The smile twisted into something dark and demonic, "is that fishbait like you may be Arkham spawn, but you should know to pay the devil his due. Or he might just show you a hell that'll cost you more than your nose."
Warren felt a very unshark like shiver crawl down his spine, instinctively gulping with his teeth around his cigar. The former petty fraudster nodded his head slowly in understanding and exhaled quietly in relief when the Joker's smile returned.
"Besides," Joker said with no mind paid to his dark persona of mere seconds ago, "consider it a way to clear your tab with me and my scaly friend Waylon here." The insane jokester explained further, gesturing with his hand to the looming figure of Killer Croc to his side.
"I'm here for the food, Joker!" Croc grumbled at the grinning madman. "You promised me the Bat!"
"Of course, in good time, Croc ol' boy!" Joker agreed with a flippant wave of his hands. "I'm a man of my word, but Harley come first! Need her to make the sides, after all, who's ever eaten Bat wings without coleslaw!? Ha ha haaaa!"
"Surely this mustard be job for me, Joker!" A second member of the group of seven, besides Joker and Croc, spoke up. This one wore a blue full body suit from head to toe with a crown emblem on his chest, a utility belt containment several sauce bottle shaped devices, and two compressed liquid tanks on his back connected by hoses two gun like nozzles hosted on said belt.
"Ugh, really? Really?" Joker groaned, losing his smile for a second time. Pinching the bridge of his crooked nose, the clown prince gave the ever so infamous Condiment King, or Mitchell Mayo, an incredulous look.
"Of course!" The man boasted, earning a groan from nearly all present. "I'll ketchup the Bat fast and serv--!"
"Shut it you sniveling little sausage dispenser!" Joker fumed, nearly snapping the cigar in his fingers and making the once confident villain cower. "You can't even tackle hot dogs, Mayo. Leave the Bats - and the puns - to the professionals! If you actually find Harley, I'll actually take a pun and give you some tips on one liners, right after I clock out of my office job at the average joe insurance company!"
"Cool it, clown." Shark piped up again, clearly amused at how quickly Joker had gotten riled up by a true laughing stock of villainy. "If you didn't bring this guy along to make your jokes look good by comparison, then why did you?" That earned him a glare from both brightly clothed villains.
"Spare food supply." Croc weighed in with a rare show of mirth, causing Mitchell to look as if he'd lose his lunch any second.
"Hahahahaaaa!" Joker cackled, his trademark grinned restored. "Croc ol' boy, you always know how to put a smile on my face!"
"Alrighty then!" The green haired psychopath inhaled on his cigar once more, chest still rumbling with laughter as he left Mitchell hanging on whether or not Croc was really joking. "You have your mission my loyal nutters and hired hands. Impress me and you'll be part of the greatest show this town's ever seen!"
One-by-one, the other five figures stepped forward to offer their two cents on how they would complete this initiation task. The Joker smiled. Harley - wherever she was - was about to get a very big shock, indeed...
Author's note: And there you have it, folks! Things are really gearing up now...
... what? What about a bunch of crossover characters? No, no, I'm afraid you're quite mistaken. This chapter's always been like this. And this story has always taken place strictly within the confines of the DCU. And we were always at war with Eastasia. *shifty eyes*